Softball’s Roberts the lone athlete in Monday’s commencement

BUIES CREEK, North Carolina – While her classmates walked the stage in caps and gowns before a few thousand family and friends in Gore Arena on Saturday, Courtney Roberts was pitching in the biggest game of her life.

With her Camels on the brink of a trip to the finals in the Big South Conference Softball Tournament, Roberts delivered — 6-plus innings, 5 strikeouts and just 3 earned runs in her team’s 6-3 win over Radford. It was the perfect graduation day for the Simpsonville, S.C., native.

“I came to Campbell never planning to graduate in the main ceremony,” Roberts said on Monday, standing in the lobby of Butler Chapel waiting for her own special commencement. “I never even bought a gown — this one’s borrowed. Softball brought me to Campbell, and softball kept me here.”

Roberts was the only senior receiving her degree at Monday’s annual commencement ceremony for athletes. Past ceremonies have included members of both the men’s and women’s golf teams, baseball and softball players and members of the track teams, but softball was the only program on the road Saturday, and Roberts was the team’s only graduating senior.

After marching to one of the shortest renditions of “Pomp and Circumstance,” Roberts received her degree in studio art from Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Mark Hammond in front of 25 family, friends, professors, coaches and teammates.

“It’s pretty special,” she said. “I’m thankful that it ended this way. It’s pretty overwhelming.”